We use cookies to give you the best experience possible. By continuing we’ll assume you’re on board with our cookie policy

Shakespeare as Dramatist Essay Sample

The whole doc is available only for registered users OPEN DOC
  • Pages:
  • Word count: 1188
  • Category: poetry

Get Full Essay

Get access to this section to get all help you need with your essay and educational issues.

Get Access

Shakespeare as Dramatist Essay Sample

The facts about Shakespeare are interesting in themselves, but they have little to do with his place in literature. Shakespeare wrote his plays to give pleasure. It is possible to spoil that pleasure by giving too much attention to his life, his times, and the problem of figuring out what he actually wrote. He can be enjoyed in book form, in the theater, or on television without our knowing any of these things. Some difficulties stand in the way of this enjoyment. Shakespeare wrote more than 350 years ago. The language he used is naturally somewhat different from the language of today. Besides, he wrote in verse. Verse permits a free use of words that may not be understood by some readers. His plays are often fanciful. This may not appeal to matter-of-fact people who are used to modern realism. For all these reasons, readers may find him difficult.

The worst handicap to enjoyment is the notion that Shakespeare is a “classic,” a writer to be approached with awe. The way to escape this last difficulty is to remember that Shakespeare wrote his plays for everyday people and that many in the audience were uneducated. They looked upon him as a funny, exciting, and lovable entertainer, not as a great poet. People today should read him as the people in his day listened to him. The excitement and enjoyment of the plays will banish most of the difficulties.

Dr. Johnson’s analysis of Shakespeare is very judicious. It analyses both the merits and demerits of Shakespeare’s plays, Dr. Johnson praises Shakespeare for his faithful depiction of human nature. He found that Shakespeare made nature predominate over accident, that he depicted the influence of the general passions, and that he successfully presented life in its native colours. Shakespeare offers characters who think, speak and act as normal human beings in like situations. The dialogue is level with life because he “approximates the remote and familiarises the wonderful.” The language of the characters is natural and as such truthful. Then Johnson turns to the weaknesses of Shakespeare. In this part of thePreface we have Johnson the neo-classicist and the moralist. He finds the following faults in Shakespeare’s plays :— 1. Lack of Morality

Dr. Johnson accuses Shakespeare of lacking in morality. He “sacrifices virtue to convenience, and is so much more careful to please than to instruct, that he seems to write without any moral purpose. From his writings indeed a system of social duty may be selected, for he that thinks reasonably must think morally; but his precepts and axioms drop casually from him; he makes no just distribution of good or evil, nor is always careful to show in the virtuous a disapprobation of the wicked; he carries his persons indifferently through right and wrong, and at the close dismisses them without further care, and leaves their examples to operate by chance; for it is always a writer’s duty to make the world better, and justice is a virtue independent of time or place.” 2. Lack of Propriety

Johnson attacks Shakespeare’s anachronisms as violating probability. Decorum is upheld as he speaks of the futility of the “reciprocations of smartness and contests of sarcasm.” Shakespeare’s jests, we read, “are commonly gross, and their pleasantry licentious.” And the dramatist had not chosen the best modes or gaiety. Propriety too has been ignored in the matter of diction, for there are “the language and the set speeches in tragedy, and the excessive use of conceits and quibbles throughout his plays.” 3. Lapses in Dramatic Composition

Then Johnson proceeds to discuss Shakespeare’s lapses in dramatic composition. First, there are tragi-comedies which are neither tragedies nor comedies. These plays are not in accordance with the rules. But they are true to human nature and fulfil the set goals of the dramatist. Secondly, the loose construction of some plots, and thirdly the improbable endings in some plays are also some glaring defects of the plays of Shakespeare. 4. Lack of Poetic Justice

In the plays of Shakespeare, especially in his tragedies there is a lack of poetic justice, that he sacrifices virtue to convenience, and that the major figures suffer more than they deserve because of their faults. The punishment inflicted on them is disproportionate to their sins or wrongs. 5. Violation of History

Dr. Johnson also objects to Shakespeare’s anachronisms or violations of
chronology. There are no clear-cut distinctions between history and tragedy in the plays of Shakespeare. 6. Loose Structures of His Plots

“The plots are often so loosely formed, that a very slight consideration may improve them, and so carelessly pursued, that he seems not always fully to comprehend his own design. He omits opportunities of instructing or delighting which the train of his story seems to force upon him and apparently rejects those exhibitions which would be more affecting; for the sake of those which are more easy.” “He had no regard to distinction of time or place, but gives to one age or nation, without scruple, the customs, institutions, and opinions of another, at the expense not only of likelihood, but of possibility. 7. Faults in His Comedies

In his comic scenes he is seldom very successful when he engages his characters in reciprocations of smartness and contests of sarcasms; their jests are commonly gross, and their pleasantry licentious; neither his gentleman nor his ladies have much delicacy nor are sufficiently distinguished from his clowns by any appearance of refined manners. 8. Faults in Tragedies

in tragedy his performance seems constantly to be worse, as his labour is more. The effusions of passion which exigence forces out are for the most part striking and energetic; but whenever he solicits his invention, or strains his faculties, the offspring of his theories is humour, meanness, tediousness, and obscurity.” 9. Faults in Narration

“In narration,” says Dr. Johnson, “he affects disproportionate pomp of diction, and a wearisome train of circumlocution, and tells the incident imperfectly in many words, which might have been more plainly delivered in few. Narration in dramatic poetry is naturally tedious, as it is unanimated and inactive,-and obstructs the progress of the action; it should therefore always be rapid, and enlivened by frequent interruption. Shakespeare found it an encumbrance and instead of lightening it by brevity, endeavoured to recommend it by dignity and splendour.” 10. Other Faults

Other faults of Shakespeare relate to his declamations. His declama¬tions are commonly ‘cold and weak’. He uses tiresome quibbles in his plays. “A quibble is to Shakespeare, what luminous vapours are to the traveller; he follows it at all adventures; it is sure to lead him out of his way, and sure to engulf him to the mire A quibble was to him the fatal Cleopatra for which he lost the world, and was content to lose it.” He also neglects unities of time and place. His histories are not subject to the law of unity, as they are neither tragedies nor comedies. Yet these faults in Dr. Johnson’s views do not lessen Shakespeare’s greatness as a unique dramatic genius.

We can write a custom essay

According to Your Specific Requirements

Order an essay

You May Also Find These Documents Helpful

A Filipino Metamorphosis - Poetry Essay Reviewing

Once upon a time there was a poet who woke up and found himself turned into ''some kind of animal''. It was dog-like with sharp teeth, whiskers, a hand becoming a paw, a voice with a ''keening sound''; it scratched and rooted around in the soil with a swishing tail. The creature still maintained another 'self', the voice of a more human consciousness, yet could...

The Water Dragon

The theme I chose for this poetry project was fantasy. I chose this theme because I really enjoy fantasy and it inspires me, and it's a subject filled with wondrous surprises. I like reading books about fantasy, and the many different mystical creatures they are based on. Fantasy means a lot to me, because it's the main subject I like to illustrate. I have liked...

"Tonight I Can Write" by Pablo Neruda...

Now it seems to me that love of some kind is the only possible explanation of the extraordinary amount of suffering that there is in the world. The reason that there is so much suffering in the world is because people still love and care for each other. The love which is shared by the people bonds them and hence makes their hearts wrung and...

How Does Ferlingetti Convey the Idea of...

Ferlingetti his idea of social different ways through the poem, ‘Two Scavengers in a Truck, Two beautiful people in a Mercedes’, ranging from staggering the lines to Double meanings, these I am going to explain over the course of this essay. The first point is the time ‘nine a.m.’, although this is not a lot on its own, linked with the facts that ‘the Scavengers...

Poem Commentary - Mid term break

A matrix function such as and can be used to figure out expressions. By calculating and the values of X and Y can be solved for. . By following rules of multiplying matrices, this can be shown as =. Using we can conclude that = or. One can generalize a statement of a pattern that develops as the matrix goes on. The expression is as...

Get Access To The Full Essay
Materials Daily
100,000+ Subjects
2000+ Topics
Free Plagiarism
All Materials
are Cataloged Well

Sorry, but copying text is forbidden on this website. If you need this or any other sample, we can send it to you via email.

By clicking "SEND", you agree to our terms of service and privacy policy. We'll occasionally send you account related and promo emails.
Sorry, but only registered users have full access

How about getting this access

Become a member

Your Answer Is Very Helpful For Us
Thank You A Lot!


Emma Taylor


Hi there!
Would you like to get such a paper?
How about getting a customized one?

Couldn't Find What You Looking For?

Get access to our huge knowledge base which is continuously updated

Next Update Will Be About:
14 : 59 : 59
Become a Member